Saturday, 28 August 2010

Daring Bakers August 2010 Challenge: Baked Alaska

I'm a Daring Baker, Woohoo!!

I've been looking forward to this for what seems like a really looooong time! I've been reading and following the Daring Bakers/Kitchen for a while. I'm glad I finally made the effort and got rid of all the doubts of whether I should join to become a Daring Baker and whether I would be able to meet the deadlines, making the time to post it etcetera etcetera!! I mean.... I'm a baking addict anyway so why not learn something new every month?! And this challenge did indeed teach me something new :-)

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I was very excited about the challenge and admittedly, a tad bit nervous about pulling it off. There was so much to decide... I realised then, the thought process would take much longer than the actual making!

First off, I decided to go for the Baked Alaska over the Petit Fours. They are both such pretty edibles, it's hard to decide. After much nail-biting, I finally decided. The blowtorching of the baked alaska won me over :-)

Next up, I had to decide on a flavour for the ice-cream. I narrowed the choices down to three: Strawberry Ripple, Mocha Choc Chip and Cookies n Cream. With all my nieces and nephews together at my parent's house, the majority vote was for Cookies n Cream Ice-cream! I wasn't complaining, it's one of my favourite flavours, Mmmm... 
I went for the recommended recipe by David Lebovitz for the ice-cream and added a generous of fine and chunks of oreo cookies into the ice-cream machine at the end.

The next stage was the best bit for me - the browned butter pound cake. Once I had made the 'beurre noisette' (brown butter), I could not believe that I had never made this before! How comes people had kept this secret from me all this time??!! Seriously, at that precise moment it did feel like it was the world's best kept secret and I had missed out all that time. I'm sure everyone in the house felt that too, with the strong nutty aroma wafting through the house. I decided to make mini alaskas, so I made the brown butter cake in a muffin case with only 2cm batter in each to form discs of cake.

The aroma of the brown butter was amazing. But the actual brown butter cake straight from the oven...? Boy oh boy, now that was AMAZING! I could've have all the mini cakes like that, my heart was telling me to eat them while they were hot but my waistline was just not agreeing!! I must make them into baked alaskas and share them amongst my family - that's what my waistline was telling me :-(

You can find all the recipes for this months challenge at Elissa’s site. Thank you Elissa for hosting such a lovely dessert xx

I was very happy with the end result and all in all, my first challenge was a success. Looking forward to the next one now!

PS. Can't believe I was a few hours late posting, I did try very hard to get in done but too much on and not enough hours in the day/night!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Happy Anniversary Sis!

While I was still at my parent's, my sister celebrated her 18th wedding anniversary!! 18th!! Sounds like a lot of years to me but it really did not seem that long ago. How does time fly??!!  I feel like an oldie when I reminisce and say things like "I remember when..." - eeek! 

According to tradition, gifts for an 18th Wedding anniversary should be made of porcelain. I did consider getting matching his and hers mugs or something from Royal Doulton which I knew my sis would adore (not sure about her hubby tho!). But I was having one of those lazy days, actually I was having a lazy week(!!) and had plans to spend those few days lounging around at home and in the garden whilst everyone watched the girls for me. I personally think the plan was my best yet! LOL!

Anyway, after a lot of thinking I decided I would do what I do best - BAKE! :-

SOOO, I told the anniversary couple to choose what type of cake they would like.
My sister has yet to try the swiss meringue buttercream that I been loving lately so they chose a white chocolate and fresh strawberry gateau filled and covered with SMB.

OK, so it looks a bit wonky on the picture, but I think it's just the angle of the pic taken. Blame the camera, not my cake!!

Anyhow, they absolutely loved it!!!
I done the cupcakes as a surprise and also because they look sooo cute with the chocolate-dipped strawberries...

Whatcha reckon??
The Swiss Meringue buttercream does not fail - it's been a friend to me ever since I discovered it. You can find the recipe at an earlier post that I've done on cupcakes and the cake is good ol' light and fluffy sponge cake:

The essential sponge cake recipe:

175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour

1tsp vanilla flavouring

1. Set the oven to 180C/gas 4. Lightly butter and line two 20cm/8" sandwich tins.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approx 5 mins), and then slowly add the beaten eggs and flavouring.
3. Fold in the sifted flour and spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool and then remove from the tins.

I will actually make a Victoria's sponge cake post very soon, it is the true essence of all things British and is SO delicious and very easy that you all who haven't tried must!!

There was no speck or crumb of the cake left as everyone was around my parent's house that day, but as any baker knows - that is a very good sign! :-)

Onto something more recent, I've just made 80 blueberry muffins for a community event being held by a wonderful organisation called Love & Etiquette. Will tell you more this space!

Night night people xxx

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Bailey's Cheesecake without the Bailey's!

I'm finally settled at home now after having a lovely, refreshing break at my parent's place. Two weeks went by in a blink, with using every opportunity to bake or dine out - I sure did have a lot of fun!! I know the recipients of my baked goods certainly did :-)

It was very hot the first few days I was there so I decided I would do something delicious and chilled. My eyes fell upon Frozen Cheesecake with Bailey's & Chocolate from my GoodFood magazine. The picture practically had me drooling and it was sooo perfect because I did not have to bake the cheesecake (very hot weather and a hot oven does not go hand in hand!) and an added bonus of ice-cream as a key ingredient in the recipe.

I mean, "Can it get any better??" [Chandler from Friends]

My parents have 8 grandkids in total from all of us four siblings and the kids were very enthusiastic in helping me make the cheesecake (you should see the mess the boys made in crushing the digestives!). I wanted the cheesecake to be more child-friendly and I don't drink alcohol anyway so it was easy for me to omit the Bailey's and just add more ice-cream (yum yum). So....

here is my Frozen Bailey's Cheesecake without the Bailey's

Yes, it really was that deeply delicious!

It was sooo deep! We had to cut quite thin slices because it was so rich but that didn't bother the kids, they were back for seconds! I put a few chocolate chunks in the mix which sank to the bottom but was very nice when you bit into it with the ice-cream. I haven't done the base coming up the sides before and you can see that its a bit thick at the bend but I like the base so that was a bonus for me ;-)

Overall, the cheesecake was very yummy even without the bailey's and it certainly ticked many boxes. I think it was so perfect for the hot weather and will probably make this again when there's another heatwave and a major factor that you can prepare ahead (like weeks in advance!!). I will halve the recipe next time so that it's not too deep and try it out with different flavoured ice-cream (my favourite being cookies n cream at the mo!). But most of all - I CAN STOP DROOLING OVER THAT RECIPE NOW. lol.


Frozen cheesecake with Bailey's and Chocolate (taken from goodfood mag)  Serves 10


250g unsalted butter

2 x 250g packs digestive biscuits

dark or milk chocolate , grated

500g soft cheese

200ml double cream

100g caster sugar

500g tub vanilla ice cream , softened

200ml Baileys

50ml shot espresso , or strong coffee, cooled


1.Gently melt the butter in a pan or microwave. Put all the biscuits in a food processor and pulse until crumbled, but not too fine (or double-bag and bash with a rolling pan). Stir butter into the crumbs.

2.Take the base out of a 20cm loosebottomed or spring-form tin and line with a large sheet of cling film to come up the sides, before you put the base back in. Line the base with a circle of baking parchment. Tip in the crumb mixture and press down firmly and evenly on the base and up the sides. Freeze to set while you make the filling.

3.Beat the soft cheese with an electric whisk in a large bowl until nice and soft, then add the cream and sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Put the ice cream into your largest bowl and fold in the soft cheese mixture, bit-by-bit, with the Baileys and coffee until smooth. Tip into the prepared tin, cover with more cling film and place into the freezer. Freeze for 3 hrs, or up to a month.

4. Bring the cheesecake out of the freezer 20 mins before serving. Lift out of the tin, using the cling film to help you, and top with grated chocolate to serve.

Whoever's going through hot hot weather - definately give this a try xxx

Friday, 13 August 2010

Laptop trouble

So I've just got back from my parents after a hectic two weeks full of sunshine, family, baking, birthdays and pure fun! I managed to fill up a whole memory card full of pics, thanks to my lovely niece J and her creative photography! Its been so busy over there that i hardly had chance to go online, let alone tell u guys whether i'm alive (yeah, i am sorry about that!). I've come back to do some major blogging only to find that my lovely dell wont boot up! I just cant believe it! So so sad, i've rang up dell and they should send someone out soon... But question is, how do i live without my laptop for even one whole day??! I'm sure u guys know how i'm feeling. Feel so lonely without my laptop :-(
So I am sorry folks but do stay tuned. I'll be keeping in touch with my iphone, yay! So i guess all is not lost. XxX